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Key Sportstown Vote Put Off Until Today


ANAHEIM — The city's Planning Commission on Wednesday delayed for a day its vote on an environmental impact report for Sportstown Anaheim, an entertainment and retail complex proposed for the Anaheim Stadium area.

The report, which is required by state law for major projects, will be voted on today. It is the final legal hurdle before the city can proceed with any construction on the project.

Commissioners voiced few concerns and appear poised to approve the document, which details the effects the proposed development would have on traffic, parking, air quality and jobs, among others.

The unexpected delay in voting came after an attorney for the Anaheim Union High School District and the Anaheim City School District complained that they were given only nine days to prepare a response to issues in the report, instead of the 10 days required by law.

"We feel we need more time to respond adequately," lawyer Dean Derleth said.

Derleth had asked that the vote be delayed for an additional two weeks, but the commission decided to allow only an extra day in order to give the school districts the full 10 days.

"We've elected to wait 24 hours so there would be no question," said Deputy City Atty. Selma J. Mann. "It's just to make sure our side of the street is very, very clear."

The school districts are concerned about how the proposed development will impact student population at their already overcrowded schools. City officials acknowledge that the development could have an "indirect" effect on the schools because Sportstown is expected to draw 2,474 new jobs to the city.

In addition to the attorney for the school districts, the only other speaker at Wednesday's hearing was an attorney for Everest Electronic Inc., a company across the street from the Big A.

The company is concerned about additional traffic and how construction of Sportstown might affect air quality since the company manufactures metal and plastic products that are sensitive to dust, said lawyer Dominic Kracht.

Sportstown would cover 167 acres and be anchored by a renovated Anaheim Stadium, which is to be transformed back into a smaller, baseball-only facility. There is also room for a new football stadium that would be built next to the Big A, if the city is successful in landing another National Football League team.

The complex would have 750,000 square feet of entertainment and retail, a 500-room hotel, 250,000 square feet of office space and a 150,000-square-foot exhibition center.

City officials say that Sportstown would have far less effect on the area's environment than the office complex development that had already been approved for the site but was never built.

"The project is cutting in half what was originally planned for that area," Commissioner Phyllis Boydston said. "It's in an industrial area and there are very few homes there."

The hearing will continue today at 2:30 p.m. The commission's vote will be binding, unless it is appealed to the City Council within 22 days, city officials said.

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